Canmore Runner and Fitzy go to Annecy

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Fitzy taking a moment. Photo: Canmore Runner

Annecy, France. A mere 25 minute drive from Geneva, the “Venice of the Alps“, home to those gear gurus Salomon, and, it turns out, some spectacular trails.

Joined – all the way from Canmore – by Fitzy, my much missed running companion and leader of Canmore Trail Culture, our objective for the day was an 18km loop with, according to Strava, 2370m of climbing (not sure that’s right) up and over the summit of Mont Baron, on the east side of the beautiful (even on a grey day) Lac d’Annecy:

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Monts Baron and Veyrier. Photo: Canmore Runner

You can shorten this run by a good 5km if, unlike us, you choose to begin at or near the trailhead, rather than parking in town and running along the lake front. It seemed like a good idea when we arrived but a terrible idea two and a half hours later as I laboured back along the lake front. On Strava, it all looked like this:

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The trailhead is located just off the D909 which is the road that follows the east side of the lake heading from Annecy towards Veyrier-du-Lac. It’s reasonably well signposted:

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Photo; Canmore Runner

..and the trailhead is quite obvious:

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Photo: Canmore Runner

But if you are in any doubt, just look for this wonderful sight: Ecrin des Gourmandises Boulanger, right smack dab at the trailhead, with the most amazingly dense and delicious pain au chocolat aux amandes. This was surely shaping up to be a good day.

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Photo: Canmore Runner

A word to the wise, however. Tempting though it will be, don’t stuff your face because from here it’s more or less uphill for the next 5.4km and the start is steep and rocky:

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Fitzy, showing little sign of jet lag – Photo: Canmore Runner

And it more or less continues like that all the way to the Plateau du Mont Baron. The route is relatively straightforward – just keep following the signs for Mont Baron and Mont Veyrier, of which there were quite a few:

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Photo: Fitzy

The climb is a beautiful twisting affair, that takes you around the backside of the mountain with a few dips long the way to give you the chance to recover.

If we’d studied the map a little more carefully, we would probably have taken the steeper trail that heads off to the Col des Sauts and Mont Veyrier around 2.5km from the trailhead and from where you can run along a balcony to Mont Baron. But alas, we didn’t study the map carefully and headed to Mont Baron via the Creux du Loup. But I wouldn’t say we were disappointed. It was something of a winter wonderland:

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Photo: Fitzy

You’re in the trees for most of the climb to the Plateau du Baron, which would probably be quite welcome in the heat of the summer. But you just know that the trees will give way at some point and spectacular things await and so they do. A mere 300m further on from the Plateau and the trail brings you to this:

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Photo: Canmore Runner
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Photo: Canmore Runner
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Photo: Canmore Runner

From here, you keep heading along the balcony and the trail drops down a bit:

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Photo: Canmore Runner

…before eventually delivering you in around 500m to the Ancien Telepherique:

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Photo: Canmore Runner

From here, we took the trail down towards Veyrier-du-Lac which involves navigating a slightly steep and sketchy staircase, albeit with a great view:

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Photo: Canmore Runner

At the Balcon des Contrabandiers, we continued to follow the signs for Veyrier-du-Lac which took us down a wonderful free flowing singletrack with lots of hairpins and chance to really open up the legs.

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Photo: Canmore Runner
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Photo: Fitzy

Rather than heading into Veyrier-du-Lac, we followed the trail that was signposted for the Col de Sauts and Mont Veyrier but later dropped off this and onto the trail leading to Chavoire and Talabar. This eventually put us back on the trail we’d started out on from the trailhead which, of course, led us happily back down to the boulangerie.

Until next time, happy trails.

Stoney Squaw Loop

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Ms. Canmore Runner at Stoney Squaw, Banff, looking north towards Mount Cascade – Photo Canmore Runner

West of Tunnel Mountain, at an elevation of 1884m, Stoney Squaw is a promontory extending east from the slopes of Mount Norquay. It lies at the end of a meandering, 2.2km trail that makes its way steadily upwards through the trees before offering up great views of Banff, the Bow Valley and Mount Cascade. From there you can loop back to the trailhead along a fast, twisty and at times steep and technical descent. Covering a total distance of around 4.5km, with some 393m of elevation, it’s a shorty but a goody. Continue reading

Lady Mac – Part One – the Helipad

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The Three Sisters from Mount Lady MacDonald – Photo: Canmore Runner

One down (well, almost), three to go (sort of).

Mount Lady MacDonald, elevation 2,606m and one of the four peaks that make up the Canmore Quad, the others being Mount Grotto, Ha Ling, and the East End of Rundle. An 8km out-and-back and really quite challenging. It put the whole prospect of attempting the Canmore Quad at some point in the future in a new, more frightening, perspective. Continue reading

New year, new route: Prairie View – Jewel Pass Loop

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View from the trailhead – A frozen Barrier Lake looking towards “Mary Barclay’s Mountain” and Grant MacEwan Peak  Photo: Canmore Runner

I’m not really one for new year resolutions. However, in keeping with an earlier post, looking back to look forward, I have resolved to focus more this year on running in pursuit of adventure and discovery rather than racing, intervals and hill repeats. This is not to say that I won’t train and race. On the contrary, Ms. Canmore Runner and I have signed up for the Broken Goat 50K in July and i’m very excited at the prospect of hitting the trails in Rossland BC. However, I don’t want racing to be all that I focus on this year. I want some adventure.

Continue reading